Gravelventures Expedition Report.Six intrepid gravel explorers joined the Podia guides on an adventure in the wild terrain of Beskid Niski, Poland. A region known for it’s varied terrain, numerous river crossings, steep hills, exhilarating descents, rocks, dust and a healthy dose of mud. The one constant during the trip was the smiles on peoples’ faces.
Images by Max Burgess, Constantin Gerlach & Maciej Ochęcki
Gravel Smiles make Happy Miles
Spending five days with strangers can be a daunting experience for some, yet a rewarding one for others. The constant factor of all Podia ventures is the great dynamic of the group; this first Gravelventures was no different.
With guests joining from Germany, Poland and the UK; it took only a short warm up ride for friendships to be made that grew stronger through the experiences of the weekend. Sharing unforgettable landscapes, nestled in the wilderness, far from any other person during the day, enjoying beers and food over an open fire in the evening; friendships were made, the spirit of adventure was strong.
Putting the Gravel in Adventure
The first Podia Gravelventure was a natural evolution of Roadventures. A concept based upon social and fun riding among a group of like-minded cyclists. Supported adventures that take the hassle out of trip planning, while maintaining the essence of exploring a new and interesting location – places that other people don’t know about!
While bikes with fatter tires enabled us to get further off the beaten track and explore the wilderness and nature, finding the best places to ride them seemed less straightforward. This is why Podia Gravelventures trips started.
When we discovered the region of Beskid Niski last year, we knew it would be perfect for a gravel challenge. We spent months exploring and testing the area. Its varied terrain proved exquisite for the trip we had in mind.
The six gravel explorers discovered this on their weekend. When they weren’t riding the rough stuff, they would find themselves on quiet picturesque roads as they transition to the next segment of wilderness with fresh new challenges. Snaking ribbons of gravel leading through ancient forests inhabited by the kind of wild animals that aren’t found in many places in Europe.
Challenges like a muddy climb that crosses a hiking path following the border between Poland and Slovakia. Mud so thick that wheels stop turning and feet got hidden.
These were the moments that tested the bodies and minds of the explorers. These were the moments that brought people together, created memories that last a lifetime. Still the ever-present smiles and laughter were constant!
A doorway to the past
Exploring a new country or region is not only about riding through the wilderness, it is also about understanding why the wilderness exists. The history that makes the place, is what adds layers of interest to keep the adventure alive.
Beskid Niski has a rich history involving forced resettlements of the inhabitants that have led to large areas being deserted. In consequence settlements faded into the landscape, remembered in some cases by only a single doorway in the middle of the field.
This was the backdrop that kept our explorers excitedly turning the pedals, as they cut through the rocks, stones pebbles and dust.
Help from the best
The Gravelventures experience is made possible by a group of companies that share our passions for adventure. They also share our desire to create the perfect environment in which you can come and explore.
Whether that is Genesis who can offer one of their Fugio adventure bikes to rent. The perfect machine for the terrain you will face.
Chimpanzee who provide all the ride nutrition and hydration from tasty bars, energising chews and tasty natural drinks.
Morgan Blue who offer tools to keep all bikes clean and working well; the core of an enjoyable riding experience. They also supply us with sports care products like muscle rub; perfect for keeping your legs moving as smoothly as your drivetrain.
Brooks England provide a number of their Cambuim saddles in different sizes; available to test.
Apidura deliver packs that allow us to carry more of everything; from food, extra clothing or emergency supplies. Essential when you are heading into the wilderness.
Tubolito offer their all-new, reinvented inner tube. The lighter, stronger tube is the perfect companion on any adventure. Ready when needed, hidden out of the way when it’s not.